Friday, May 30, 2008

Countries to Adopt Cluster Bomb Ban


Countries from across the globe were to adopt a landmark convention banning cluster bombs in a formal ceremony on Friday, in a move supporters hope will stigmatize the lethal weapons as much as landmines. Diplomats from 111 countries were to adopt the treaty in a closing ceremony at Croke Park in the Irish capital after 12 days of robust negotiations at the Gaelic games stadium.

A Cluster Bomb Explsion

The convention, agreed Wednesday, outlaws the use, production, transfer and stockpiling of cluster munitions. It also provides for victim welfare and clearing contaminated areas. Politicians and campaigners insisted it was a hugely significant pact despite the absence of key powers like the United States, China and Russia. Diplomats will adopt the treaty before Irish Foreign Minister Micheal Martin closes the conference.

Norway has spearheaded the treaty initiative and the convention is due to be signed in Oslo on December 2-3. States then have to ratify the pact. The United States, China, Russia, India, Pakistan and Israel did not participate in the convention talks, leading some commentators to question its worth. However, Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere insisted the treaty would stigmatize the use of cluster bombs among those countries keeping their stockpiles.

Cluster munitions are among the weapons posing the gravest dangers to civilians, especially in heavily bombed countries. Dropped from planes or fired from artillery, they explode in mid-air, randomly scattering bomblets, with many civilians having been killed or maimed by their indiscriminate, wide area effect. They also pose a lasting threat as many bomblets fail to explode on impact.

The treaty is due to be signed in Oslo on December 2-3. The cluster munitions treaty requires the destruction of stockpiled munitions within eight years -- though it leaves the door open for future, more precise generations of cluster bombs that pose less harm to civilians. The treaty was welcomed by the Cluster Munition Coalition (CMC), an umbrella group of non-governmental organizations, which hopes it will stigmatize cluster munitions.

Courtesy almanartv

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Factfile: Cluster bombs

A cluster bomb, containing more than 600 bomblets, that was dropped
by an Israeli aircraft during the 2006 Lebanon war [ courtesy: File: AP]
  • Cluster bombs are containers holding multiple bomblets or submunitions.
  • They are fired into the air or dropped and break in mid-air. They have the potential to spread hundreds of bomblets over large areas - covering areas as large as several football fields.
  • Many of the munitions fail to work properly on release and remain a threat to people long after they are fired.
  • About 60 per cent of the people injured by cluster bombs are not involved in conflict activities.
  • A third of recorded cluster munitions casualties are children.
  • At least 14 countries have used cluster bombs, including France, the Netherlands, Russia, the UK, the US and Saudi Arabia.
  • Billions of cluster bombs are held by about 76 nations. Thirty-four states have produced the weapon.
  • Cluster bombs were first used by German and Soviet Union forces in the second world war.
  • The US used significant numbers of the munitions in Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam during the 1970s.
  • More recently, Russia has used the weapon in Chechnya and the Sudanese government employed them during their civil war. Israel used them, and (Hezbollah was accused of using them - malafide statement), during the Lebanon war in 2006.
  • The weapon caused more civilian casualties in Iraq in 2003 and Kosovo in 1999 than any other weapon system.

* editors comment

Source: Cluster Munitions Coalition

courtesy al jazeera

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Indonesia Pulls Out of OPEC

28/05/2008 Indonesian energy minister said Wednesday that his country is pulling out of OPEC, because it is no longer a net oil exporter. Purnomo Yusgiantoro told reporters it did not make sense for his oil-producing nation to be a member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries at a time when domestic reserves were drying up and consumption increasing. "We are pulling out of OPEC,'' he said."I will sign the papers today.''

The country of 235 million people is Southeast Asia's only member of the organization, but has had to import oil because of decades of declining investment in exploration and extraction. Purnomo said the decision to leave OPEC was made by the Cabinet of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, but that Indonesia could still rejoin at a later date.

Last month, Yudhoyono said his nation needed to concentrate on increasing domestic production, which has dropped to less than 1 million barrels a day compared to just over 1.5 million barrels a day in the mid-1990s. Meanwhile, Indonesia, which heavily subsidizes oil to protect the poor, last week raised the price of gasoline and other fuel products by nearly 30 percent because surging costs on the global market threatened to blow its budget. Indonesia joined in 1962. The organization presently has 13 members. courtesy almanartv

Friday, May 23, 2008

Somalia in brief part 1.

Developments in Somalia may soon hit the air and major newspaper. Lets brace and pray for goodness to reach our darker skin brothers in Somalia. This too warrant us to know a little more about Somalia.

A short background.

Since the previous central government under the leadership of Siad Barre broke down, as he was ousted out Then a series of civil war that followed it had lead to the Federation of Somalia breakdown. Somalia was a Republic and the government was established based on the federation of several regions Since1991 Somalia has no de factor Central Government. Prior to that, Somalia due to its strategic location had been a victim of a vicious power struggle between pro US and Pro Soviet forces during the cold war.

Somaliland and Puntland.

Looking on the map of Somalia, on the topmost is an area known as Somaliland which had declared itself independent in1991, with its capital at Hargesia. It is the most peaceful part of Somalia Somaliland has not attained any international recognition

Puntland in the northeast also remains autonomous but supports the Transitional Government and, unlike Somaliland, still considers itself a part of the Somali Republic.

Transitional Federal Government

The internationally recognized Transitional Federal Government (TFG), controls only parts of Southern Somalia from its base in the town of Baidoa, and is not recognized by most Somalis. On October 14, 2004, the Somali Transitional Federal Parliament elected Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed, previously president of Puntland, to be president of Somalia. Because of the situation in Mogadishu, the election was held in a sports centre in Nairobi, Kenya. Yusuf was elected with 189 of the 275 votes from members of parliament. Abdullahi Yusuf is seen as a pro-western government back by foeign forces.

Recent development.

Conflict broke out again in early 2006 between a Pro-US alliance of Mogadishu warlords known as the Alliance for the Restoration of Peace and Counter-Terrorism (or "ARPCT") and a militia loyal to the Islamic Courts Union (or ICU).

The militia loyal to the ICU was an indigenous developed forces – based on the cultural background of the Somalis and their inherent need to establish and maintain order, seeking to institute Sharia law in Somalia. This threatened the Pro-US TFG and US interest in Somalia and the region.

The ICU and their militia took control of much of the southern half of Somalia, normally through negotiation with local clan chiefs rather than by the use of force. ICU was popular and have grass root and was successful briefly, until under American instigation and sponsorship Ethiopia forces invaded Somalia to assist the TFG forces in September 2006 …. to be follow by part 2 .

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Islamic Party 4 Points Terms of Reference.

The President of Pan Malaysia Islamic Party (PMIP), popularly known here in Malaysia as PAS, Dato Seri Tuan Guru Haji Hadi Awang, while commenting of The Ex Prime Minister of Malaysia resignation from his Party, had taken the opportunity to highlight PMIP’s (PAS) 4 Points Terms of Reference when dealing with cooperation with another party. Below are his statements, rendered into English by the blogger from its original which was in Malay.

Tuan Guru Haji Hadi

PAS is always open for any party or individuals, which or who is ready for ‘reformation’ or change whether they are from the existing Pakatan Rakyat or from UMNO itself, who is ready to implement reformation / change based on the following terms:-

1. The Party or Individual must agree to maintain a good Malay-Muslim leadership.

2. Be just to all Malaysian of all races and religion as a solution to problems of this multi- racial and multi-religious society.

3. Malay unity must be inculcated based on Islam while the mulit-racial and religious Citizenry unity to be based on justice and a just rights to all.

4. The process of change must be done morally correct, transparent and based on good ethical practice.

PAS is an experienced Political Party, in main stream National Politics in all political scenarios and conditions since Independence till today.”

Quoted from Harakah daily, an online PMIP party organ, On Tuesday 20 May 2008.

Monday, May 19, 2008

A Sudden Case of Cold Feet

Thwart a Bush/ Did Hezbollah Olmert Attack on Beirut?


This week Israel's Military Intelligence Chief, Major General Amos Yadlin complained to the Israeli daily Haaretz that "Hezbollah proved that it was the strongest power in Lebanon... stronger than the Lebanese and it had wanted to take the government it could have done it," He said Hezbollah, continued to pose a "significant" threat to Israel as its rockets could reach a large part of Israeli territory."

Yadlin was putting it mildly.

But what Intelligence Chief Yadlin did not reveal to the Israeli public was just how "significant" but also "immediate" the Hezbollah threat was on May 11. Nor was he willing to divulge the fact that he received information via US and French channels that if the planned attack on Lebanon's capitol went forward that Tel Aviv was subject, in the view of the US intelligence community to "approximately 600 Hezbollah rockets in the first 24 hours in retaliation and at least that number on the following day".

The Israeli Intel Chief also declined to reveal that despite Israel's recent psyche-war camping about various claimed missile shields "the State of Israel is perfecting", that this claim is being ridiculed at the Pentagon. "Israel will not achieve an effective shield against the current generation of rockets, even assuming no technological improvements in the current rockets aimed at it, for another 20 years. And that assumes the US will continue to fund their research and development for the hoped for shields" according to Pentagon, US Senate Intelligence Committee, and very well informed Lebanese sources.

The planned attack on Beirut

According to US Senate Intelligence Committee sources, the Bush administration initially green lighted the intended May 11 Israel 'demonstration of solidarity with the pro-Bush administration militias, some with which Israel has maintained ties since the days of Bashir Gemayal and Ariel Sharon.

In the end, "the Bush administration got cold feet", a Congressional source revealed. So did Israel.

Israel was not willing to proceed with the original Bush Administration idea which was to have Bush attend the May 15 Israel anniversary celebrations following the Israeli attack meant to hit Hezbollah hard, and give Bush the credit for coming to the dangerous region. The message was to be that Bush comes to the rescue 'on horseback and leads the US Calvary charge straight out of a B western movie where the bugle would sound and flag would be unfurled and the white hat good guys would show their stuff before riding into the sunset and back to Texas, leaving the results to the likely Obama administration to sort out.

The plan involved Israeli air strikes on South and West Beirut in support of forces it was assured would be able to surprise and resist Hezbollah and sustain a powerful offensive for 48 hours.

Also presumably disturbing to Israel was the report it received that Hezbollah "had once again in all probability hacked its "secure" military intelligence communications and the fear that the information would be shared with others.

The Hezbollah rout of the militias in West Beirut plus the fear of retaliation on Tel Aviv, ruining 60th anniversary celebrations, forced cancellation of the supportive attack.

Israel limited its actions to sending two F-15's and two F-16's into as far North as Tyre, one more of literally hundreds of violations of Lebanese airspace, sovereignty and SCR 1701.

Clearly frustrated, Cabinet Minister Meir Sheetrit said Israel should not yet take any action now, but warned" those things could change if Hezbollah takes over Lebanon." a few minutes earlier he had declared that Hezbollah had done just that and had treated the Lebanese army as a doormat.

Later in the Sunday cabinet meeting, Minister Ami Ayalon called for an emergency meeting of the political-security cabinet to discuss "the ongoing crisis in Lebanon and why Israel was not assisting friendly forces."

Minister Yitzhak Cohen (Shas) said that "Israel must immediately ask the [United Nations] Security Council to hold renewed discussions over resolution 1701." The minister was referring to the resolution that stopped the Israeli actions against Lebanon during the 34-day between in 2006, maintaining a fragile cease-fire.

Finally Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert informed Israeli supporters in Lebanon, through the media, and presumbly other means that" Israel was following the violence in Lebanon closely, but would refrain from intervening. Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilnai told Army Radio Sunday that Israel was prepared for the possibility that the situation in Lebanon will deteriorate into another civil war (meaning future opportunities for Israeli influence and interventon in Lebanon) and that the current fighting could end with a Hezbollah takeover of the government. "We need to keep our eyes peeled and be especially sensitive regarding all that is happening there," Vilnai told Army Radio.

The Bush administration, also disappointed, switched tactics and is opting for domination of the narrative of the fairly complicated events of the past week and using their media and confessional allies to launch a media blitz (minus Future TV for a few days} to flood the airways with:

·Hezbollah staged a coup d'├ętat. Even Israel, if not the Bush administration, concedes Hezbollah has no interest in taking over the Government. (One observer, paraphrasing Winston Churchill's comment, deadpanned, "Some Hezbollah Coup! Some Hezbollah Etat!")

Hezbollah brought it forces from the South and occupied West Beirut: Hezbollah not only did not bring their forces from the South to Beirut (rather they remained on alert for an Israel attack down South)·

Hezbollah broke its pledge not to use Resistance arms against Lebanese militias and shot up West Beirut.

The facts are very different when viewed close up on the streets here.

When the Lebanese Resistance took the decision during the early hours of Friday morning to engage in civil disobedience, it delayed its actions so as not to preempt the Labor movement strike for higher wages which it supported. When the marching Strikers were prevented from moving into West Beirut the Opposition extended its civil disobedience manifestation.

Various militias, including the smartly outfitted Hariri "Secure Plus" with its distinctive maroon tee-shirts and beige trousers, (now know locally by some as "Secure Minus") a hoped for future Blackwater operation in Lebanon disintegrated surprisingly quickly because many of its green recruits brought down from Tripoli felt misled and betrayed regarding their job description as they were handed weapons an instructed to fight Hezbollah. Snipers from anti-Opposition factions killed civilians from rooftops in Beirut trying to ignite a civil war.

Hezbollah, acting in self defense, according to various officials, quickly clamped down on the trouble makers, took control of the streets, within hours handed them over to the army, and virtually evacuated West Beirut, retaining one position near Bay Rocks manned by unarmed representatives.

Meanwhile the Hariri influence has been greatly weekend in Akkar near the Palestinian Refugee camp of Nahr al Bared and in the Tripoli area. According to some political analysts, including, Fida'a Ittani, a regular columnist for the independent pro-opposition newspaper Al-Akhbar, wrote on May 14, the Future Movement, defeated in Beirut, no longer has any serious influence in the north.

Several Salafi al Qaeda admiring movements are present in Lebanon and like Fatah Islam's declaration this week that they will fight for the Sunnis, they vary in their attitudes from silent opposition to Future leader Saad Al-Hariri to fully supporting him as the leader of the Sunnis. These groups are valued by certain 'leaders' in Lebanon because are the only ones with coherent structures at the ideological, political, technical, and field levels.

Judging from Saad Hariri's confused statements at his subsequent news conference and statements by other parties, the bitterness of promised but unforthcoming assistance was evident.

For two days following the debacle of his forces imploding the head of the Future Movement said nothing. Finally on the 14th he broke his silence. The Halba massacre, committed by Hariri's Mustakbal militiamen which brutally and barbarically murdered 11 people from the opposition did not seem worthy of discussion as he spoke. In a press conference on Tuesday, Hariri simply ignored what all the Lebanese had seen on TV from weapons, ammunition and alcohol found in Future movement offices, and instead listed a series of delusions. "We awaited an open war on Israel, and yet here is an open war on Beirut and its people" he stated. Some interpreted this rather odd statement either as a subconscious slip of the tongue on Hariri's part expressing his frustration that the Israelis help did not arrive or that his reported earlier incoherent state persisted.

Hariri's original speech was so confused that the Saudi channel al-Arabiyya stopped broadcasting it and only read excerpts from what he said, without showing his recorded speech.

When American criticism resumed, and Hezbollah fighters withdrew from the alleys surrounding his house, Hariri was urged to stand up and speak again, this time with a stronger tone, saying "This has been decided by the Iranian and Syrian regimes that wanted to play a political game in Lebanon's streets. For us nothing has changed. We will not negotiate with someone having a pistol pointed to our heads."

Anger at the Bush administration and Israel by certain warlords in Lebanon must feel much like the frustration of Secure Minus personal who rushed from Tripoli and felt misled, abandoned and cheated.

Courtesy counterpunch : Franklin Lamb can be reached at

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Constitutional process sabotaged'

Courtesy of a Post by kasee - in Malaysia-Today

Sunday, 18 May 2008
By : Elizabeth John and Sonia Ramachandran, NEW STRAITS TIMES

KUALA LUMPUR: "This kind of misbehaviour is so unprecedented that were it not for the release of the video clip, it may never have come to light."

This was a key conclusion of the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Lingam video clip on questions revolving around the selection and appointment of judges.

The commission found not only outside influence in judicial appointments, but also sabotage and serious defaults in the constitutional process.

It said the misbehaviour ranged from acts and omissions which were morally objectionable, outside the norms of professional ethical standards and which constituted crimes.

Several instances of such misbehaviour observed by the commission were the appointment of the chief justice, chief judge of Malaya, Court of Appeal judges and High Court judges.

However, the question of the nature of sanctions provided by the law for this kind of misbehaviour remains unanswered.

The report, to be released to the public on Tuesday, said that there was extraneous evidence from Datuk V.K. Lingam that "he and his collaborators" sabotaged the late Tan Sri Malek Ahmad's candidacy for post of Chief Judge of Malaya.

It said this was done by influencing then prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

"Not to put too fine a point on this exercise, TSMA (Malek) was a victim of character assassination by third parties who had an axe to grind, and which he had no opportunity whatsoever to counter."

The commission felt that this would not have happened if Dr Mahathir had consulted the then chief justice Tun Mohamed Dzaiddin Abdullah as to why Malek was considered an unsuitable candidate.

The report said this meant the mandatory requirement of consultation had not been complied with, and called it a serious default in the constitutional process.

The commission also made a note of the fact that the former chief secretary to the government, Tan Sri Samsuddin Osman, had considered himself entitled to nominate prospective High Court judges.

"He does not seem to have considered that such an act on his part was in default of the relevant Federal Constitutional requirements," the report said.

It also called attention to the oaths taken by former chief justices Tun Mohd Eusoff Chin and Tun Ahmad Fairuz Sheikh Abdul Halim when they were appointed.

"We invite attention to these oaths to underline the fact that members of the administration and judges are not merely bound by contractual obligations to keep their promises but are bound by a sacrament which has to be honoured with the utmost fidelity."

Saturday, May 17, 2008

UN peacekeeper in Lebanon dies - Melayu?

Sat, 17 May 2008 02:57:54

A car accident leaves one United Nations peacekeeper dead and another injured in southern Lebanon, Lebanese security officials say.

A car from the Malaysian battalion went off the road, and slid into a valley near the village of Tebnine in southern Lebanon, the sources said on Friday.

The wounded person was transferred by a French UN peacekeeper to a hospital in Tebnine for treatment, the sources added.

The Muslim majority countries of Indonesia and Malaysia have each offered to send 1,000 troops to Lebanon.

Originally, United Nations Interim Forces in Southern Lebanon (UNIFIL) was created by the Security Council in 1978 to confirm Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon, restore international peace and security, and assist the Lebanese government in restoring its effective authority in the area.

Following the July/August 2006 crisis, the Security Council enhanced the force and decided that in addition to the original mandate, it would, among other things, monitor the cessation of hostilities; accompany and support the Lebanese armed forces as they deploy throughout the south of Lebanon; and extend its assistance to help ensure humanitarian access to civilian populations and the voluntary and safe return of displaced persons.

RZS/HAR - presstv

Friday, May 16, 2008

An open letter to the UN

His Excellency Ban Ki-Moon, Secretary General of the United Nations

Today, May 14, Israel commemorates its 60th anniversary of “War of Independence” and the establishment of the illegal Zionist entity.

The day also marks the 60 years of the tragic Palestinian Nakba or suffering. It is needless to turn back history pages to learn how the illegal Zionist entity was established at 4:00 P.M. on this unfortunate day in 1948 and the powers that propped and recognized them as a 'state'; it's an open book.

Today, Zionists in Israel and across the world are celebrating the day with great fervor, but I'm sure that there are thousands of other conscientious Jews across the world who will not be celebrating this day. Rather they will be commemorating the plight of the Palestinian nation. These Jews will not only condemn the decades of occupation and suffering, but these Jews are also aware of the constant atrocities that are continuing in Occupied Palestine. They will condemn the oppressive Separation Wall; the confiscation of Palestinian land; the illegal settlements; the denial of Palestinians' right of return; the killings, torture, imprisonment and harassment; the violation of basic human rights of Palestinians and Israel's disdain for international law.

Likewise, world Muslims and other peace loving people view the anniversary of the creation of as ill-conceived and ill-gotten, viewing it as an unforgettable and unforgivable event that has ever taken place in the world's history. Their hearts are with the Palestinians and I join the Muslim community in their support for the Palestinian cause.

Today, just as the years that have lapsed, Israeli forces continue to use sophisticated weapons and kill men, women and children indiscriminately. They also displace the nation.

Such atrocities have continued under the staunch aegis of Western powers. As a world citizen, what I find pathetic to learn is that an international community which is aware of and acknowledges the innate dignity of every human being, silently watches and keeps mum over Israel's inhuman atrocities against the innocent civilians of Gaza.

Indisputably, Israel's brutalities against the Gaza civilians are a flagrant violation of all international charters and conventions. While it is highly appreciated that the UN Secretary-General Ban ki-Moon, UNICEF, NGO's, and Human Rights Groups condemn Israel's "excessive" use of force and “inhuman” measures against the innocent Palestinians, little is being done to pressure Israel to immediately halt its punitive actions against the Palestinians.

Undoubtedly, the esteemed United Nations has, as always, condemned Israeli blockades of the Gaza Strip which has caused humanitarian crisis for Gaza's 1.5 million residents, and who face frequent shortages of various everyday supplies.

It has also condemned Israel's response to the international community's concerns about the "unjust" situation the regime has created for Palestinians living in their homeland in the Gaza Strip.

Likewise, UN aid agencies have also warned of the tragic humanitarian crisis in Gaza. But, Your Excellency, do you think that only concern will suffice? If there is to be lasting peace in the Middle East, firstly, it would auger well if Washington and other powers unconditionally stop their support for Israel, failing which it will further embolden the regime to pound Gaza and occupied territories recklessly.

This will only deteriorate the situation for Palestinians who are now desperately in need of food, medical supplies and basic amenities. Against all international conventions dictating war laws, Israeli forces constantly prohibit emergency medical relief teams from reaching innocent men, women and children.

Israel fails to reason that the children, who constitute over half of Gaza population, are bearing the brunt of the crisis. As it stands, they are already suffering gravely from a series of restrictions, including blockades on most goods imposed since June last year.

But despite this, Israel continues to violate all international laws, in particular the Fourth Geneva Convention which deals with the protection of civilians during war or under occupation. This clearly indicates Israel's unyielding attitude to willingly heed the efforts of world bodies, international community and NGOs to abide by international laws.

Besides, it indicates that undisguised racism confronts them. So what is the solution to compel Israel to renounce such criminalities that is endangering the security and welfare of the 1.5 million civilians in the Gaza, and the occupied territories? It's catastrophic!

The suffering of the Palestinians, as well as all those oppressed by foreign occupying forces, be it Iraq or Afghanistan, has become unbearable for the Muslim world. Even the calls by world civil societies and governments to end the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian land are being totally disregarded. This is while the international community is obliged to compel Israel to implement every relevant United Nations' Security Council Resolution and make them withdraw from every occupied area. The international community is also obliged to set implementation actions and measures, similar to those which are enforced in other parts of the world.

Should the Israelis fail to adhere to such demands, then I am sure that any conscientious world citizen will undoubtedly agree with me that the only way to bring Israel on its knees is for world bodies, humanitarian groups, honorable heads of solidarity groups, and NGOs to pressure Israel by imposing sanctions to make it halt its brutalities in the Gaza Strip, West Bank and al-Quds.
What is perplexing is that if sanctions and embargoes can be imposed on certain countries for little or no reason at all, why sanctions can't be also imposed on Israel, for causing humanitarian crisis in the occupied land?

This is a case of human suffering where every person's life is at stake! It will be greatly appreciated if the Security Council urgently demands the occupying power to immediately halt its military aggression and its collective punishment of the Palestinians and adhere to international laws and conventions. The highly respected UN Security Council should use its impartial authority to also prosecute Israeli officials for their crimes in Gaza in a way to prove that world public opinion will no longer tolerate their brutalities.

To allow Israel to act freely, and above the law, will severely undermine chances for a just and lasting peace. To this end, all freedom loving people and peace seekers including those who oppose occupation, apartheid, ethnic cleansing, racism and war crimes, and all those who are willing to speak the truth and accept the reality of how Israel came into existence, should sincerely commit themselves to halt Israel's brutalities against the oppressed Palestinians and leave the occupied territories.

Last but not the least, let not the cries of innocent children and the guiltless Palestinians go unnoticed by the international community as their silence will tantamount to consent.

In this dark hour I am sure that, with your esteemed support and fair stand, as well as with the support of peace loving world civil societies and governments, Your Excellency will find solutions to help establish peace, stability and justice not only in the Middle East, but in all troubled spots of the globe.

Yours Respectfully

Florence Jones

courtesy :
Thu, 15 May 2008 02:21:19
Press TV, Tehran

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Press Statement - Royal Commission Report, May 12, 2008


We welcome the submission of the report of the Royal Commission on the Lingam video clip to the Yang DiPertuan Agong. We call for its full ventilation to the Malaysian public. If Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi is serious about judicial reform, then he should take this report to its logical culmination which is the investigation and prosecution of those who the report deems to have deviated the course of justice.

We have to ask what the import of the Royal Commission’s findings are with respect to the unjust prosecutions and convictions in cases that fell within the gravitational field of the inquiry conducted by this Commission.

It is critical that adequate measures be taken to restore the independence of the judiciary and to ensure the professional and unbiased investigation and prosecution of criminal activity by the Attorney General’s chambers that is free of executive interference.

This would involve serious consideration of the inconsistence and dubious procedures being followed by the authorities right now in the investigation of cases that involve senior government officials and, to mention a few of the more egregious allegations, murder and the massive misappropriation of public fund.

These issues are of deep concern to the Malaysian people and should not be taken lightly by the present administration. A half-hearted attempt at restoration would be as unsatisfactory as no restoration at all.


Kenyataan Media

Kami mengalu-alukan penyerahan Laporan Suruhanjaya Diraja mengenai video klip Lingam kepada Yang Di-Pertuan Agong dan meminta laporan itu segara didedahkan kepada umum.

Perdana Menteri, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi berhasrat melaksana reformasi badan kehakiman, seperti mana yang beliau umumkan sebelum ini, maka cadangan suruhanjaya tersebut supaya menyiasat dan mendakwa kalangan yang terlibat dapat dilaksanakan.

Kami juga ingin memohon penjelasan bersabit laporan suruhanjaya yang mengaitkan isu ketidak adilan pendakwaan dan penghukuman kes-kes tertentu dibawah bidang kuasa suruhanjaya tersebut.

Amat mendesak sekali untuk kerajaan mengambil tindakan wajar mengembalikan keyakinan terhadap badan kehakiman serta memastikan agar penyiasatan dan pendakwaan salah laku jenayah oleh Jabatan Peguam Negara yang bebas dari gangguan pemerintah.

Ini pastinya melibatkan beberapa percanggahan dan kaedah yang dipertikai yang sewajarnya dipatuhi oleh pihak berwajib dalam penyiasatan kes yang melibatkan pimpinan kanan kerajaan termasuk kes-kes yang tercela seperti pembunuhan dan yang melibatkan dana yang besar.

Rakyat Malaysia prihatin tentang permasalahan tersebut dan justeru itu tidak harus diremehkan oleh pemerintahan sekarang. Sebarang tindakan yang dianggap tidak bersungguh-sungguh bagi memulihkan kewibawaan badan kehakiman pasti nya tidak akan berhasil.


Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Iraqi gov't, Sadrists reach a peace agreement

Sat, 10 May 2008 14:39:53
US military attacks on Sadr City began in March.

The movement of Shia Cleric Moqtada al-Sadr says an agreement has been reached with the government to provide Iraq with more security.

Sheikh Salah al-Obeidi, the spokesman for the movement's office in the holy city of Najaf, told AFP that the agreement will be effective from Sunday. He added that the roads leading to Sadr City would be open tomorrow.

Since March 25, Baghdad's Sadr City has been a target of US military attacks in which hundreds of civilians have been killed.

The agreement was reached following talks between Sadr movement and a delegation representing Nouri al-Maliki's government, al-Obeidi said, adding that the deal would not include the disbanding of the Mahdi Army.

Based on the agreement, the US attacks against the movement is to be stopped, the source added.

Meanwhile, on the May,11 US military spokesman, Rear Admiral Patrick Driscoll, said the 14-point agreement between the members of the al-Sadr movement and Iraqi government had led to a 'decline in operations' from last night in Sadr City. Hundreds of people have been killed and scores wounded since then.

Children play around a destroyed vehicle in Sadr City
"The talks made in Iran were followed by more talks here in Baghdad with the representatives of the Sadr bloc," he added.

Asked if he believed that the Iranians had pressured Mahdi Army to reach the agreement, al-Adeeb said, "I don't want to say it is pressure. But the Iranians have their point of view. We told them that imposing security is for the benefit of all parties in Iraq."

Shia groups and the Iraqi government on Saturday agreed to end fighting in Sadr City, which had erupted after Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki ordered a crackdown on the southern city of Basra.

The crackdown had triggered a wave of clashes in other parts of Iraq.

"Mahdi Army will honor the deal reached on Saturday to end weeks of deadly fighting in the impoverished Baghdad district of Sadr City" Sadr's spokesman Sheikh Salah al-Obeidi quoted the cleric as saying on Monday.

"Sadr himself authorized the delegation to negotiate and to reach an agreement which stopped the flow of Iraqi blood," Obeidi added.

The cleric also stated that the deal would still stand even if there were skirmishes.

Obeidi said Saturday's accord, aimed at ending seven weeks of fighting in the Baghdad slum district, was expected to be fully implemented by Wednesday.

The Sadr City fighting followed a government security crackdown in the southern port city and oil hub of Basra.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Sami al-Hajj is free and in Sudan

SUNDAY, MAY 04, 2008
0:10 MECCA TIME, 21:10 GMT

Seized in 2001
He was seized by Pakistani intelligence officers while travelling near the Afghan border in December 2001.Despite holding a legitimate visa to work for Al Jazeera's Arabic channel in Afghanistan, he was handed to the US military in January 2002 and sent to Guantanamo Bay.

Al-Hajj, who is originally from Sudan, was held as an "enemy combatant" without ever facing trial or charges. Al-Hajj was never prosecuted at Guantanamo so the US did not make public its full allegations against him.

Free man
The US embassy in Khartoum issued a brief statement confirming that a "detainee transfer" to Sudan had taken place and saying it appreciated Sudan's co-operation. Omar al-Bashir, the Sudanese president, visited al-Hajj in hospital.

A senior US defence official in Washington speaking on condition of anonymity, told the Reuters news agency that al-Hajj was "not being released [but] being transferred to the Sudanese government".

But, Sudan's justice minister told Al Jazeera that al-Hajj was a free man and would not be arrested or face any charges.

Two other Sudanese inmates at Guantanamo, Amir Yacoub al-Amir and Walid Ali, were freed along with al-Hajj. The two said they were blindfolded, handcuffed and chained to their seats during the flight home.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Bolivia's Upper Class Separatist Challenge Supported by the US

US backs eastern secession in Bolivia

Minority landholders vote for independence

Friday May 9th, 2008

Bolivia’s landowning eastern elite voted on Sunday for autonomy from President Evo Morales' central government. According to author Forrest Hylton the US government has spent up to $125 million dollars supporting the secession movement, a movement which has been disregarded by a large percentage of the Bolivian population as well as governments from Bolivia's neighboring countries.

Forrest Hylton is the the author of Evil Hour in Colombia (Verso, 2006), and with Sinclair Thomson, co-author of Revolutionary Horizons: Past and Present in Bolivian Politics (Verso, 2007). He is a regular contributor to New Left Review and NACLA Report on the Americas.

Bolivia faces separatist challenge

Autonomy referendum pits rich oligarchs in Santa Cruz against poor indigenous majority in highlands

Saturday May 3rd, 2008

The Real News Network Analyst Pepe Escobar says the autonomy referendum in the rich lowland province of Santa Cruz on Sunday is unconstitutional. Escobar says "it's a dagger in the heart of South American integration. It is a classic battle between a rich white minority and a poor indigenous majority, and its not surprising which side the US government is on."

Based in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Pepe Escobar writes The Roving Eye for Asia Times Online. He has reported from Iraq, Iran, Central Asia, US and China. He is the author of the recently published Red Zone Blues. Pepe is a regular analyst for The Real News Network.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

US GIs' PTSD may exceed war tolls

Tue, 06 May 2008 04:20:13

A US health official warns suicides and 'psychological mortality' among US soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan could increase death tolls.

Thomas Insel, head of the National Institute of Mental Health said Monday that of the 1.6 million US soldiers who have been deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan, 18-20% (around 300,000) show symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

If 'one just does the math', then allowing PTSD or depression to go untreated in such numbers could result in 'suicides and psychological mortality trumping combat deaths' in Iraq and Afghanistan, Insel warned.

An estimated 70% of those at-risk soldiers do not seek help from the Department of Defense or the Veterans Administration, he told a news conference launching the American Psychiatric Association's 161st annual meeting.

He urged public-sector mental health caregivers to recognize the symptoms of psychological troubles resulting from deployment to a war zone and be ready to provide adequate care for both soldiers and their families.


Friday, May 2, 2008

UK Jews against Birth of State Founded on Terrorism

Hanan Awarekeh

01/05/2008 A week before Israel marks its 60th anniversary for occupying the Palestinian territories; a group of over 100 British Jews comprised of well-known academics, writers, actors and other public figures has launched a scathing attack against the Jewish state.

'We're not celebrating Israel's anniversary,' proclaimed the letter carried by the Guardian newspaper on Wednesday. Among the signatures of those saying Israel forced 70,000 Palestinians into a Death March in 1948 are Prof. Haim Bresheeth, a professor at the University of East London who organized the call for an academic boycott against Israel, playwright Harold Pinter, Attorney Daniel Machover, who filed a lawsuit against Maj. Gen. Doron Almog, and Stephen Fry.

"We cannot celebrate the birthday of a state founded on terrorism, massacres and the dispossession of another people from their land," say the letter writers. "We cannot celebrate the birthday of a state that even now engages in ethnic cleansing, that violates international law, that is inflicting a monstrous collective punishment on the civilian population of Gaza and that continues to deny to Palestinians their human rights and national aspirations. We will celebrate when Arab and Jew live as equals in a peaceful Middle East."

"In July 1948, 70,000 Palestinians were driven from their homes in Lydda and Ramleh in the heat of the summer with no food or water. Hundreds died. It was known as the Death March. We will not be celebrating," the letter continues.

"In all, 750,000 Palestinians became refugees. Some 400 villages were wiped off the map. That did not end the ethnic cleansing. Thousands of Palestinians were expelled from the Galilee in 1956. Many thousands more when Israel occupied the West Bank and Gaza. Under international law and sanctioned by UN resolution 194, refugees from war have a right to return or compensation. Israel has never accepted that right. We will not be celebrating."

In an interview with Israeli daily Ynet Prof. Haim Bresheeth rejected any claim that the letter was in any way anti-Semitic. "I don't understand why the signatories are being accused of anti-Semitism and support of terrorism. None of those who attached their names to the letter supports harming civilians or senseless victims on both sides," he said.

"We want Israel and the Palestinians to live side by side in peace, without missiles, without Qassams and without warplanes hovering above. I want to live in Palestine, without killing on both sides.

"Israel is unwilling to talk to Hamas, which won the democratic elections. Hamas on the other hand, is willing to talk to Israel so long as it withdraws from all the territories."

Bresheeth accused Israel as being responsible for the situation in the territories: "The real terror is the one Israel has inflicted on the Palestinians for 40 years now, the terrorism of a strong state against a relatively weak organization. We are pushing the Palestinians into a corner where they have no choice by the attacks. We must not do this, the fact that the government of Israel cannot ensure the safety of its residents and the safety of Sderot is solely its own fault."

NATO split over Afghanistan


ZAA NKWETA, PRESENTER: In Afghanistan, the Taliban are getting stronger, and according to The Washington Post, US Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates thinks the current NATO mission is a failure. The US are preparing to send the Marines to take over more of the fighting. But is there a split in NATO over the future of the mission? Is there a military solution to the problem? Or are negotiations with the Taliban the only realistic course? To give us a clearer picture of the situation, we go to Syed Saleem Shahzad.

PAUL JAY, SENIOR EDITOR: Saleem, the question of what to do in Afghanistan is being hotly debated in the United States and in Canada. In Canada, a panel that was commissioned by the Canadian federal government released a report saying that, more or less, Canada should keep doing what it's doing, wanting more NATO troops on the ground. Tell us what's happening on the ground. I know you just returned from Kabul. What's happening in Afghanistan? And what is this split between the US and NATO all about?

SYED SALEEM SHAHZAD, PAK. BUREAU CHIEF, ASIA TIMES ONLINE: Well, one thing is obvious, that NATO is divided on the strategic question in Afghanistan. This is very obvious. There is an impression within the British camp, which is operating in the southwestern Afghanistan, especially in the Helmand province: they think that the last five, six years' policies, which were essentially run by the United States of America, were a failure. And now the British actually want to revamp the whole strategy. Actually, they want to play a game of carrot-and-stick in Afghanistan with Taliban. At one hand, obviously, they offer a military solution, a military offensive in the restive southern provinces. But at the same time, they are aiming to talk to some of the Taliban commanders. So this is their strategy. But, you know, the Americans are not agreeing with this whole idea, and it appears that they believe that it would fall flat on their face and on NATO's face. So these are a few things on which the NATO alliance is actually divided.

JAY: Is there a moderate section of the Taliban to be dealt with? Or is that an illusion?

SHAHZAD: There are contradictions all over. This process of dialog with Taliban is not a new idea. It's pretty old. I mean, it started in 2003, actually, when in Quetta some CIA operatives spoke to a section of Taliban. But thing is that whenever they spoke to Taliban, they always dish out the proposal that they would accept Taliban in the government, but without Mullah Omar and without al-Qaeda. I think this is the problem. All their previous overtures with the local Taliban commanders were just a failure, because both overtures were not supported by the Mullah Omar or the Taliban leadership. So, I mean, they have to, I mean, speak with the right people, and the right person is Mullah Omar.

JAY: But the US policy is increased counterinsurgency. The idea of any kind of negotiation with Mullah Omar seems to be completely off the table.

SHAHZAD: Either they would speak to Mullah Omar, or alternatively they have to fight, and they have to wipe out Taliban from southern Afghanistan. But, for that matter, they have to send a couple of thousand more troops to southern Afghanistan, and they have to revamp their combat strategy; they have to place their war machine with full force.

JAY: To wipe out Taliban inside out, doesn't it also require an assault in the Northwest Frontier Provinces and Waziristan in Pakistan? And then what does that lead to? What does that do to the Musharraf government? How would the Pakistan army put up with such a thing?

SHAHZAD: The thing is that NATO needs to choke all the supply lines coming from Pakistan, only then pressurize Pakistan to conduct the operation in the tribal areas. So only then it would be a success.

JAY: But you think it could be a success.

SHAHZAD: Yeah, it is quite possible. But it is essential that they have to supply more soldiers on the Afghan side of the defense.

JAY: How many extra US or NATO soldiers do you think it would be?

SHAHZAD: I think at least 25,000 more soldiers are required to be posted all along the Afghan border.

JAY: But what about my question? Doesn't it require also a campaign inside Pakistan? Because the Pakistan army doesn't seem to want to take this on.

SHAHZAD: But the thing is that they have to take Pakistani forces into the confidence, and they should have a joint strategy to clip the wings of Taliban from both side of the borders.

JAY: And what do you think most Afghans want? Do they want this massive campaign? Or would they rather see negotiations?

SHAHZAD: Afghans, like all folks in the world, want prosperity. And development works. And if they would feel that Americans or the foreign forces mean it, they would certainly support it. At present, at the moment, they don't feel it; they just view them as foreign occupation forces which did not deliver anything to the areas in the last six, seven years. So that's why they are reacting. Otherwise, they are the same people who actually booted out the Taliban in 2001 from the Helmand province, which was the heartland of Taliban. Actually, they want the representation of southern Afghanistan, the Pashtun heartland, in the central government and the provincial government. If you talk to the common folk, they want their rights, their political rights, one way or other. They don't have any particular obsessions in terms of Taliban or anti-Taliban forces. I don't find this thing that they would particularly support a dialog with Taliban or they would particularly support the military operations against Taliban. I think they want their representation in the federal government. And, actually, you know, Taliban is more a generic name of the Pashtuns in southern Afghanistan. That's why they are supporting them. Otherwise, if they are given full representation in the central government, in the provincial government, of course they would more than happy.

JAY: What does the Karzai government want? And what does the leadership in Kabul and the north of Afghanistan—what do they want? Do they want a negotiated settlement of some form? Or do they want increased US-NATO presence and they want a big military campaign?

SHAHZAD: There is a confusion within the Afghan government. The Afghan government doesn't have any independent agenda. Generally they follow the American dictates rather than any other country or the NATO.

JAY: So they would support a big military campaign.

SHAHZAD: Yeah, they would support a military campaign.

JAY: You know, last year, there was talk about a big spring offensive. It didn't really seem to realize itself. Now there's talk again about a spring offensive this year. What do you think we're looking at in terms of Taliban military activity?

SHAHZAD: The Taliban is more obsessed to cut down the military supply lines of the NATO coming from Pakistan, and they will focus more to chop off the land supply lines of the NATO coming from Pakistan, because if the NATO does not get the oil supply line from Pakistan, there will be a serious problem in operations. So this is what the Taliban's new strategy is for the spring offensive 2008.

Is there a military solution in Afghanistan?


ZAA NKWETA, PRESENTER: As the war in Afghanistan continues, an independent panel report on Canada's future role in Afghanistan was released today. The key recommendations include a stronger diplomatic position regarding Afghanistan, continuing responsibility for security in Kandahar beyond 2009, with increasing emphasis on training the Afghan national security forces, a thousand additional NATO or allied soldiers, and increased commitment by the Canadian government to bilateral project assistance. If Canada does not receive additional equipment or help from its NATO allies and the Canadian government, the recommendation is for Canadian forces to be withdrawn. To further analyze the situation, we go to the Real News Analyst, Eric Margolis.

PAUL JAY, SENIOR EDITOR: So, Eric, the Canadian Independent Panel on the Future of Canada's Role in Afghanistan reported, after three months of arduous work, and interviewing many people, and visiting Afghanistan, they seem to have said, “We're going to keep doing exactly what we're doing.”

ERIC MARGOLIS, THE REAL NEWS ANALYST: This report, it struck me as having been written before the whole Manley commission, it was already decided, and they wasted a lot of taxpayers' money flying around and meeting to produce just what the government wanted them to say. And that is a validation of current government policy in Afghanistan. The Conservatives--Mr. Harper has hung his political hat on this little war, as has President Bush. And he desperately needs somebody not only to validate it, but also to open an exit door for him in case Canada wants to skedaddle out. And the obliging Mr. Manley did both.

JAY: I'm going to play a clip for you. Here's what Mr. Manley said in the press conference about what they make of the current situation in Afghanistan, what he calls the tough facts.


JOHN MANLEY: We have tried, perhaps to some people's discomfort, to be brutally frank in the assessment that we have included in our report. We don't believe that Canadians need sugarcoating on what's going on, and that's why we have said the security situation in Kandahar seems to be deteriorating, not improving. This is tough. If it's tough, that's not a reason not to be there. But we think Canadians are quite prepared to undertake things that are tough, things that are difficult, things that are dangerous, but we've got to give them the facts.


Eric, this tough fact which seems to be a revelation to the panel is something anyone that's observed the situation in Afghanistan has known for quite some time, that the situation's getting worse. Here's what The Washington Post said: [text on screen] “The Bush administration's decision to dispatch an additional 3,200 Marines to Afghanistan raises the question of whether NATO's participation in the war has been a failure.” “Mr. Gates and other Pentagon officials seem to have concluded that the three NATO countries that have been willing to operate in the South, Britain, Canada, and the Netherlands, have been relatively ineffective.” “ The Pentagon believes they are too averse to casualties, too reluctant to patrol, and too dependent on artillery and air strikes”; and that “British troops [are criticized] for failing to retain control over areas taken from the Taliban and for advancing a ‘colonial’ strategy of backing local militias rather than working with the national Afghan army.” (Washington Post, January 17, 2008.) The strategy seems to be “There is a military solution, and it's up to us to do it.” What do you make of that, and what do you make of the Manley report in that context?

MARGOLIS: The addition of a few thousand more US marines, and even the retention of Canadian troops, or adding a couple of more thousand NATO troops is not going to make a difference in this war. One has to look at the facts and say that if 160,000 very brutal Red Army troops backed by a “Afghan national communist army” of about another 200,000 could not suppress the Pashtun tribes, it's unlikely that a NATO force of only 50,000 with a few mercenaries thrown in is going to be able to do so. If the Taliban today had shoulder-fired anti-aircraft weapons such as the US gave to the Mujahideen, the continued US-western-Canadian role in Afghanistan would become untenable, because the only way western forces can operate there is through massive applications of air power and bombing, and this is due to their small numbers. But nevertheless the western forces are not numerous enough, nor well led enough, to be able to impose a military solution that would lead to the desired political solution, which remains completely elusive.

JAY: Is there really a military solution in Afghanistan?

MARGOLIS: No, there isn't. The West is not going to win this war. In fact, when I was in India in the spring, I was advised at the very highest level that the prime minister's office in India had concluded after a lot of study that the western powers, NATO, would be defeated in Afghanistan and would eventually pull out. Pakistanis share a similar view. There is no military victory in a guerrilla war like this. And the only solution is to bring the Pashtun tribes of southern Afghanistan and Taliban and its allies into the political process. Right now they have been largely excluded. The government, the US-imposed government is made up of Tajik and Uzbeks, ethnic minorities, and it's up to its turbans in drug dealing, controlling 90 percent of the world's heroin trade. This is an unacceptable situation. It can't continue. And until there's political inclusion in Afghanistan, there will be no peace or stability. [inaudible] deals with ugly regimes around the world. I can assure you that places like Syria, Egypt, Morocco, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan are certainly uglier regimes even than Taliban in many ways, yet we're perfectly happy to deal with them. The point is that we have painted ourselves into this corner. We've got to get out of it. Ottawa's done the same thing too, and it needs to broaden its horizons.

JAY: Given the phobia of looking weak in the United States, one does not expect any of these presidential candidates to be able to even discuss the possibility of a negotiation with the Taliban, particularly Mullah Omar. So what we're likely to see is in fact some kind of buildup, some kind of a continued surge strategy in Afghanistan.

MARGOLIS: Yes, definitely, particularly as the US gets nowhere in Iraq. Even though the government has convinced Americans that things are going swimmingly in Iraq, they're not. There will be a tendency to go to and fight in Afghanistan, certainly some pressure from the military. But you're right. Any calls for negotiations will be met with a barrage of calls saying, “You're being soft on Muslims, you're being soft on Islamic terrorism,” which is the modern equivalent of being soft on the Commies from the 1950s and '60s. And it's just not possible in an election year, certainly not possible for Barack Obama. For him it would be the kiss of death.

JAY: Is it a possibility that a McCain could do such a thing?

MARGOLIS: More possible than an Obama. But Senator McCain, who I respect a lot, has shown a very extreme right-wing, very hard-line view on foreign policy that may even be further hard-line, further to the right than President Bush's.

JAY: And Hillary?

MARGOLIS: Hillary is oozing in so many different directions it's very hard to tell what her position is. But she might in fact be able to craft some kind of under-the-table talks with Taliban and be able to live through the experience.


Please note that TRNN transcripts are typed from a recording of the program; The Real News Network cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.

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